The economic downturn begs the question posed by Jeff Kessler: How much does the need to guard against rising crime, and improved peace of mind, offset the fall-off in industrial capital projects and residential customer dislocations?

It’s the economy.

There’s no doubt the global downturn that started last year will work its way into everyone’s security operation throughout this year. The $32,000 question (cut from $64,000!) is how and where.

“The high profile for security issues following events of 9/11 has been replaced by our continuing focus on the economic downturn,” contended Richard Lefler, emeritus faculty with the Security Executive Council and a member of Security Magazine advisory board. Enterprises have or will be reevaluating risk, often choosing economic survival over some physical and information security risks.

Hits and Misses

Still there is unevenness when it comes to the impact of the downturn on security operations, programs and the purchase of technologies.

Jeff Kessler, managing director at Imperial Capital, made the point in a summary of the 13th annual Securing New Ground security industry conference recently held in New York City. Security Magazine is an event sponsor.

Kessler’s summary quoted keynote speaker,Naren Gursahaney, ADT Worldwide president, as seeing future services going beyond security and into critical business operations. Growth, the ADT executive suggested, will be in higher value-added services including collaborating with IT integrators, in building a business that creates recurring revenues not just from maintenance services or monitoring, but from graduating to physical/business application integration and even business process improvements via physical security.

For security leaders, the bottom line is to squeeze more business uses from legacy security systems and to tee-up new purchases with a similar eye. It can even work with officers; in a previous Security Magazine, the property owners of Philadelphia’s Comcast Center employ and specialty train ambassadors, not guards.

Government Security Spending

When it comes to identity management and video systems, experts at Securing New Ground saw continued strength in the government sector – federal, state and local. In an interview with Frost & Sullivan Security Analyst Dilip Sarangan, he told Security Magazine that “government still will spend money from existing funds and projects.” He also saw growth in using electronic security to protect national and worldwide sports events. In addition, there’s a strong bet that President Barack Obama will create a very senior level CTO or CIO position to deal with both state-federal fusion and federal interdepartmental interoperability issues.

Going against the downturn, video surveillance, according to the Kessler summary, is going through an unprecedented change from old analog systems to digital video, including recorders that can be programmed to “look” for specific situations or monitor traffic flows in stores to systems that are true “edge” information providers on an enterprise’s network. Use of newer video surveillance in healthcare, education and critical infrastructure should continue to grow.

Still there is gloom. Many organizations are cutting expenses and some are laying off a significant number of workers, pointed out Sarangan. “Some organizations are going with the cheap (security) option.” His advice: “Make the best of what you now have. Push your system integrator on what less expensive things can be implemented. Work on steps over a longer period of time to improve your security infrastructure.”

“Analysis of the video surveillance market has been subject to considerable exaggeration.” said market analyst Alastair Hayfield with IMS Research. “Perhaps this is understandable given the high level of growth seen in the network video surveillance market. However, a more measured approach is required in these uncertain economic times."

Be More Vigilant

In the more established markets of the U.S., Western Europe and Japan, there has been a noticeable slowdown in video surveillance spending. The retail and banking verticals are forecast to be hardest hit as consumer spending slows and financial institutions remain shaky. The transportation and government verticals fair better as video surveillance is often viewed as essential for ensuring public safety and substantial government funding still exists, according to Hayfield.

This year, there’s no doubt that security leaders need to be even more vigilant.

In such an environment, observed Robert A. Messemer, chief security officer with The Nielsen Company, there is greater potential for theft of physical assets and intellectual property. “It’s human nature,” he said. Disgruntled workers and laid off workers may be more likely to take things out the office door.

Messemer sees value in a three-phase plan: Create new training, update and educate through a code of conduct and implement advanced technology solutions.